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One important task for managers is delegating so you don't feel overwhelmed.
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updated 4/9/2008 9:05:47 PM ET 2008-04-10T01:05:47

If you're great at your job, it's likely only a matter of time before you're asked to become a manager.

But just because you're a skilled employee doesn't mean you know how to be a boss — or even want to be one. In fact, being a manager might be frustrating if you're not able to do the type of work you enjoy. So how does a great employee become an effective manager?

First, ask yourself if you truly want to switch roles. "Not everyone wants to be the manager — but in order to make more money, move up the career ladder and please the bosses, you have to move into the role even if you'd rather be an individual contributor," says Gary Topchik , co -author of "The First-Time Manager."

He urges employees to really analyze their feelings about becoming the boss. If you do decide to make the move, the next challenge is to gain an understanding of the different role managers play compared with individual employees. "Managers are the winds beneath employees' sails," Bonnie Laird recently told a class of first-time managers at a training seminar at the American Management Association in Manhattan.

The best managers give employees the resources to be successful. To accomplish that, new bosses should meet separately with members of their team to define each person's role. That's also an ideal time to discuss how their performances will be evaluated.

At that meeting, explain what your employees can expect from you. That includes frequent, informal meetings to touch base; help achieving goals; training and development; timely updates on shifting priorities and a team calendar so everyone knows who's doing what and when.

All of this might be awkward if you were formally friends with these employees. Instead of letting bad feelings fester, deal with them immediately. Ask your friend-co-worker if the fact that you're now the boss will affect the work he or she does in the office. "Talk about it and be realistic," says Linda Hill, a Harvard business professor and author of "Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership." "Your relationship will change. You can still be friends, but there is the understanding that, at times, it's awkward."

Have a similar conversation with other employees who applied for the position but didn't get it. Airing these uncomfortable topics is half the battle, says Hill.

When you become the boss, you'll be tempted to make changes. Don't do everything at once. Prioritize. One major success factor is realizing you can't do everything yourself. Figure out which team members you can delegate responsibilities to. It's important on many levels. "Managers should delegate so they can have more time managing and leading, says Topchik. Part of that is developing a leadership style. Topchik points out that managers should change their style for different employees, since they will each need different things from their boss.

Also, learn each person's work style. Some need a lot of guidance, particularly new hires. Others are fine checking in every few days. If you want more contact, make that clear.

Topchik encourages bosses to casually meet with team members about once a month and ask how things are going. Ask what's working and what isn't. This enables you to nip problems as they arise and help staff figure out the best way to deal with issues.

And while you're transitioning from "worker" to "boss," don't forget the most important thing: Keep getting the work done.

© 2012 Forbes.com

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